A friend of mine, Jane of the gorgeous arms, was recently inspired (ummmm, yeah I’ll stick with inspired) by a hike up Signal Hill with a Mount Everest attempter. She thought hiking to the high point of PE would be great fun and luckily she invited me to join the group.
So Jane gathered ’round her a group of Loud Smart Girls – Ann, Shannon, Sue, Michelle, myself – and together this ragtag group spent part of Samhain in search of the highest peak of Prince Edward Island. It ended up being not as straight forward as it might sound.
You see, Prince Edward Island’s highest point sits at 142m above sea level. It is little more than a bump on a landscape of rolling hills. It sits on private property and is unnamed. We were unable to find any local information that would help lead us to the lowest high point in Canada. It isn’t like it stood out of the landscape like a real mountain.
Based on some scant information from Summits of Canada Expedition and a dated but largely accurate description by one John McPike of Texas who visited the PE High Point in 2007, we set out yesterday afternoon for Glen Valley, PE.
Junction Road, where we were to find the second entrance to a farmed field fringed on the right by trees – hardly a rare geography here – was a gauntlet of fall colours. Some interesting landmarks along the lane caught our attention.
It was a cool gray afternoon; only about 4 degree celsius with a threat of showers. Once we reached Base Camp we checked the weather station. I was relieved to find conditions dry as I had been a bit worried about hiking unknown terrain in the rain.
After a best guess but failed attempt with McPike’s directions,we spent a fair amount of time searching unsuccessfully for path markers and heading in various directions. This led us through fields, over knobby knolls and hillocks, along tractor rut paths. It did not lead us to our desired summit.
Walking through the fields barefoot was not comfortable. The short stubble of cut crops lounging under regrowth wasn’t painful, but it did give my insteps more action than they normally get when I am unshod. At the back end of the fields there was a lot of odd debris, as if the area was a bit of a dumping and/or party area. In particular there was an abundance of broken glass which required barefoot brightness, vigilance and great care to avoid.
As the first hour gave way to the second of our meandering and exploration and failed theories, my feet got cold. Not unbearably so. I did not want to return to the car or put on socks. I was simply and thankfully aware of walking in damp areas for a sustained period of time.
Eventually, half the summit party returned, beckoned by witching intuition perhaps, to the smallish stand of woods which we first cursorily explored upon arriving. They fanned out in an attempt to cover as much ground as possible. Their brilliance paid off!
It was with some measure of relief rather than a rush of accomplishment that I heard the shouts of intrepid Anne, Jane and Shannon. The Highest Point had been found and I needed only follow the sounds of their cheering to join them at the summit.
Walking through the woods was almost luxurious. Though I had to watch both where I stepped and for branches at eye level, the damp covering of leaves over soft mosses was quite lovely, flakes of gold and bronze gilt over velvet. Occasionally, I caught a small fern between my toes and bore it forward like a bouquet. Toe posies.
Please, enjoy some of the photos from this grand escapade. It was a quirky bit of Hallowe’en fun.
Summit PostScript: Our intrepid, resourceful and inspiring Expedition Leader, Jane, suffered an injury on this successful summit of the highest point in Prince Edward Island. Upon reaching summit Jane found her camera battery to be juiceless and ran pell mell through the woods to her car for a fresh battery, turning her ankle in the process. One of her flexor tendons was injured and she is today in pain and unable to walk. I should not mention that turned ankles are so much less likely in bare feet. No, I should not mention that. I wish Jane a speedy recovery so that we may again search a summit together.